All Articles Tagged "urban fashion"
Fans of unusual jewelry should find something they like in the intricately hand-crafted designs of Brooklyn-based CanDid Art Accessories. Owner and designer Candice Cox experiments with brass, copper, gunmetal and silver to create retro, punk-rock and African-inspired pieces. Cox will tell you that her Royalty Body Chain is her most versatile piece, while her Shoulder Elegance piece and her various hand chains are top sellers.
Although her craftsmanship looks to be the work of an artist with years of designing experience, for Cox, turning an interest into a full-time business venture happened almost overnight.
“I learned on YouTube,” she said. “That’s how I made my first pair of earrings.”
Cox started making jewelry in December 2010, after a conversation with a friend about her love for funky jewelry and unique pieces sparked a business idea.
“It always starts with friends and the people that love you,” Cox said. “They said, ‘Why not make money selling jewelry while you’re still trying to figure out what you want to do in New York?’”
And so she did.
“I’ve always loved different stuff [and] the idea of being different,” Cox said of her designs. “I like pieces that evoke conversation.”
She says “she’s inspired by everything,” including a love of Africa, her people and the creative people she meets in her environment. Her parents also played an inspirational role in her business.
“My mom is an artist in her own right,” she said. “My artistic ability came from her. My father is an entrepreneur and has always encouraged me to start my own business.”
But before her fairly recent transformation into a full-time jewelry craftsman, Cox worked in sales at Coca- Cola in California. She spent five years with the company as a sales executive managing million-dollar accounts. Before then, she worked for two years in company ticket sales with the NBA’s Golden Warriors.
Gradually, Cox began to realize that working in corporate America wasn’t for her.
“What I didn’t like about corporate America was working like a slave for someone else, and being in an environment where the glass ceiling is the reality,” she said.
So the Oakland, CA native packed up and moved to New York City in search of her true calling. Soon after, CanDid Art Accessories was born.
Cox is a 2003 business marketing graduate of Howard University, and taking a look at her website, you can tell her marketing background came in handy for starting her own company. Although she had no previous experience in Web design, Cox created the website herself to cut costs using Wix.com, a site she felt offered the best professional looking website for free.
Creating the website was step one. The next challenge came with spreading the word about her new business. Soon she found word of mouth and social media was her key to breaking into the market. Then she started going to events, collecting emails, and sending e-blasts to new and potential customers.
As she grew, Cox was able to secure all of her models for free, paying them in jewelry instead. She also has two interns– one runs social media while the other acts as her personal assistant by attending events, taking pictures and gathering contacts.
Today although Cox doesn’t have a physical location, her pieces can be found in six boutiques in Brooklyn, Oakland and Los Angeles.
“I average about 35 units a month and my biggest selling events are Sheckys DC and Philly and the Afro Punk Festival,” Cox said.
As with most businesses, the holidays are her most profitable time of the year. She also has success with large-scale events such as the Brooklyn Night Bazaar and Bust Magazine Craftacular.
Although Cox now loves what she does, she acknowledges the challenges.
“It’s a lot of hard work and motivation,” she said. “When you’re in a working environment with [other] people and everyone is on the same page… being organized is critical. There are days when I’m not motivated but I have bills to pay and I want to be successful, so I have to multitask and get everything done.”
Cox mentions that aside from the hardwork, gathering startup capital is essential. She recommends maintaining relationships with corporate colleagues as they may one day serve as investors in your business. Cox started her business off with the substantial amount of savings she was able to generate during her years in corporate America. She didn’t take out any loans (although she mentions she wishes she did) and spent all of her money on CanDid Art Accessories.
“Every time I get money I put it right back in the business,” she said. “I take loans from myself, such as from my IRA and my emergency money.”
Despite heavy personal investment, Cox sees profit from the business. This is partly due to the stock she has gathered in raw supplies to make her jewelry, as well as her ability to utilize recycled materials and collect old jewelry donations.
Currently she is considering taking a fashion merchandising class at the Fashion Institute of Technology to enhance her skills. She envisions CanDid Art Accessories one day sold at high-end department stores.
Her lasting advice for those who hope to start their own business: “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people…don’t be too proud, it takes a team to run a business.”
Quick. Which of these looks is “high-fashion”? Which is “urban”?
The answer to the second question is none of them, according to Mychael Knight, the designer who created all of them.
“I will correct someone very quickly when they say I am an ‘urban designer’ or a ‘hip-hop designer,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with [designing hip-hop-inspired sportswear], but it’s just not what I do.”
As for the answer to the first question, Knight, who is black, cites an “invisible barrier” that reserves “high-fashion” anointing for a privileged circle of designers—very few of which are black. “Tracy Reese and Rachel Roy - they’ve penetrated that, but I don’t ever really see any placement of them in fashion magazines”—an indication that Reese and Roy are not readily on the mind of prominent editors and stylists.
Perhaps observant of this trend, some black designers early in their careers choose to use white models, particularly for lookbooks, which are prepared for press and buyers, and on their websites where customers seeking high-fashion looks (assumed to be white) can immediately imagine themselves in their pieces. Though Knight regularly casts models of color for both his runway shows and his lookbooks, he can guess why some African-American designers skip over black models altogether.
“When you open up a fashion magazine—a Vogue or an Elle,” Knight points out, “you never see black models. You think, as a black designer, ‘well, if I need my brand [or] my product to get noticed I need to use the white models.’” It’s like high school, Knight explains. “People feel like they to need fit in.”
Model booker Carole White gave New York Magazine the racial breakdown as it applies to models. “Asian girls do really well. You can’t have too many, but they do really well, and it’s quite easy to book them. For Black girls, it is more difficult.” White is further quoted as saying, “[Black models] have to be utterly amazing. There will be less work. It takes much longer to establish them… because clients don’t take the risk on black girls so much.” For this reason, White admits agencies are “very, very picky” when it comes to signing black models. “Maybe you’re not as picky with the white girls, because there’s more work for them.”
With African-American models facing a shrunken market, getting passed over by black designers only further threatens their livelihood. It also perpetuates old school notions of what, and who, represents luxury versus the aesthetic of the street.
Tags:african american designers, African American models, black designers, elle, Fashion, fashion industry, fashion magazines, gelila bekele, high fashion, magazines, Mychael Knight, mychael knight spring 2012, nana ekua brew-hammond, powder necklace, Project Runway, rachel roy, street wear, tracy reese, urban fashion, Vogue, white models
Fashion is often unfairly considered primarily a superficial business with minimal substance and notorious fickleness. What that misconception fails to consider is that in order for a brand to thrive you need individuals behind-the-scenes that are savvy, intelligent and that possess vision to forecast the next wave of trends. T’Shurah Dove, vice president of marketing for clothing retailer Jimmy Jazz, exudes those qualities which has helped her ensure that the company remains one of the market’s leading urban retailers.
Dove was previously the marketing coordinator for urban fashion brand, Downtown Locker Room (DTLR). In that position she honed her skills. Today, in her role at Jimmy Jazz she manages the marketing strategies for more than 120 stores throughout the Unites States. We spoke with the ever-busy Dove about staying connected to the needs and desires of consumers, dealing with racism and ageism in her field, the power of networking and her secret to simultaneously working and taking care of her love life.
What has been your career path to get to where you are now?
Well I started out working as a promotions assistant in Baltimore from 2000-2003 at a local radio station. I knew at that moment that marketing and promotions was it for me. Fast forward two years and I ended up at an urban retailer headquarters as a Marketing Assistant and worked my way up to Marketing Coordinator/Manager. This great opportunity became available at Jimmy Jazz and I was offered a VP of Marketing position. That’s a pretty great ending for someone who started out in radio promotions. But it doesn’t end here for me.
What is a typical day like for you?
Every day is a different day for me. One Monday I may have a day full of meetings and the next Monday I may be working on a sponsorship project that helps brand the company. Every day is a different task.
By the time you arrived at Jimmy Jazz, it was already a leading clothing retailer. How did that impact your strategy since you weren’t building it from the ground level?
Well, just because a company is established doesn’t mean you stop reaching out to your consumer. You still work to stay relevant. You still work to make sure that the customer thinks of your company first when they decide that they want to go purchase goods. You work hard no matter what level you’re at. If the customer forgets about you, you have a serious problem.
Much of marketing boils down to having great ideas. How do you stay inspired to keep fresh ideas flowing?
Attending events to see what our demographic responds to helps me decide on how to approach the customer. I’m a big people watcher and so everywhere I go, I observe. I watch what people wear, what they read, and what technology they are into and I take that information back and turn it into a idea. I pay attention to how national chains market to their customers and turn that into an idea. There’s inspiration around you with every step you take; the key is to pay attention.
What ethical issues in marketing, such as pricing ethics or in your choices of advertising and promotion, do you deal with?
With the economy the way it is, I have to be smart about how funds are spent when it comes to advertising. I have to decide what opportunity will have the greatest effect and how we will get the biggest bang for our buck. We do cross promotions with a number of our vendors, which helps offset costs for projects. In this method, both companies get exposure.
Has being an African-American woman ever been an issue in your field of work?
I deal with issues ever so often with men and women who are uncomfortable with the position I hold and the work that I do. Due to my age and my skin color, I encounter resistance and hostilities but I pay it zero mind. I worked hard to get where I am today and continue to work hard. Those who take issue with it have insecurities that I’d rather not give energy to.
What do you consider to be your secret to success?
I remember to stay focused and humble. People are more inclined to do business with individuals who have pleasant personalities. I make sure to always attend the most influential events and network. It’s very interesting to meet people from different walks of life and talk to them about what they do.
How do you juggle your work and social life in order to keep a healthy balance?
I designate times of the week that I take myself out on a date. I found out that I’m a cheap date, but I also realized that taking this time is essential. I learned how to entertain myself while growing up the only girl. Other times, I may invite my boyfriend to an industry event. This way I kill two birds with one stone. It’s very important to separate work and your personal life and I make sure I put aside enough time to do both effectively.
Polo Ralph Lauren, anchored by its tony, classic-Americana aesthetic, and Louis Vuitton, marked by an unapologetically status-driven image with a touch of bling, are two disparate brands that have held consistent sway with the African American audience.
By contrast, Mark Ecko, the street wear and apparel line, as well as fashion brand Baby Phat, have lost their footing with the Black audience. So why have these two sets of fashion brands garnered different marketing results with African Americans, who, according to Diversity Affluence—a firm that helps brands market to the affluent ethnic audience—hold more than $100 billion in purchasing power?
While there are no easy answers, Polo Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton share a clearly defined style identity, a patina of authenticity and a timeless quality, brand experts say. By contrast, Mark Ecko and Baby Phat have lost their bite, and in some ways, have not evolved with their audience.“Both Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren have done an excellent job creating authentic, long-standing images that attract both high income and aspirational shoppers,” said Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer and chief shopper of WSL Strategic Retail, a marketing consulting firm that works with manufacturers and retailers. “And I think that works for African American shoppers who are very interested in designer fashion.”
While Mark Ecko and Baby Phat would be defined as urban brands, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren would not—but that doesn’t mean the latter two don’t appeal to a sophisticated, urban audience. Indeed, part of what defines an urban aesthetic is rooted in the richness of African American culture, said Amy Shea, executive vice president and director of brand development for Brand Keys, the brand consultancy. And while it might not seem so on the surface, that sensibility has something in common with luxury fashion brands. African American culture—which is really synonymous with urban culture— has “pushed the boundaries,” Shea said. “If you look at what urban culture really means, it stands for who exists on the edge of fashion, art and music. It’s about pushing against what’s happening now” to usher in the new—“and that’s what couture and luxury brands are all about,” she said.
Tags:african american buying, african american louis vuitton, african american purchasing power, african american shopping habits, african americans ralph lauren, baby phat, Fashion, fashion labels, kimora lee, mark ecko, ralph lauren, Russell Simmons, urban brands, urban fashion, urban fashion label
It’s been almost 20 years since Daymond John founded the game-changing fashion line Fubu, and the man is still doing his thing. Currently, you can see John on the reality show Shark Tank, judging and guiding the business dreams of prospective entrepreneurs. The Atlanta Post caught up with the author, investor, media personality and entrepreneur at the Reality Rocks event in Los Angeles. Check out what he had to say about his current endeavors.
(NY Post) — Amar’e Stoudemire is getting into the fashion business — the Knicks’ power forward is launching a clothing line with designer Rachel Roy, sources told Page Six. The insiders said the line will be a part of Roy’s contemporary label for Macy’s, Rachel Rachel Roy, and is being planned to launch next fall. Althought details are still being squared away, we hear the collection will be for women. Stoudemire and Roy were seen last week having dinner at clubby West Village eatery The Lion, possibly hammering out details of their collaboration. The future business partners met at an event during New York Fashion Week in September. Stoudemire has had his size-15 foot in the fashion world since arriving in town after he signed a $100 million deal to join the Knicks. During Fashion Week, Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour personally invited the 6-foot-10 NBA star to the Fashion’s Night Out runway show at Lincoln Center.
By Barbara Thau
“From the block to the boardroom.” That’s where Sean John, the sportswear line from Sean “Diddy” Combs, is headed, says the hip-hop-mogul-turned-fashion- designer. And Combs is betting big on Macy’s to take it there. Come spring 2011, Macy’s will be the only U.S. department store to sell the 11-year old sportswear brand, which has morphed from an urban, young men’s line synonymous with sweat suits, into a modern collection that cultivates sophistication.
The exclusive deal marks Sean John’s bid to revive its appeal with shoppers who have evolved, just like Combs himself, Sean John and Macy’s executives said. The partnership is also designed to woo younger consumers to the brand and reignite sales of the line.
In turn, Sean John, which Macy’s has carried since 1999, will be discontinued at department stores such as Dillard’s, Bon-Ton and Belk, as well as specialty stores like Jimmy Jazz. Sean John, the line’s eponymous fashion company Combs founded, is counting on the heft and scale of Macy’s to take the sportswear part of the brand to new heights.
“Macy’s has a huge reach,” said Dawn Robertson, president. “We believe there’s a substantial growth opportunity with Macy’s.” She added: “We would not have given up distribution in department and specialty stores…if we didn’t think we could get a lot of top line growth, because it’s about top-line growth in the end.”
The brand has generated $1 billion in sales at the chain since its 1999 debut, Combs said during a May press event to launch the line at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s ultra-hip Meatpacking District neighborhood. Exclusive Sean John woven sport shirts, knits, sweaters, t-shirts, denim, vests, pants, shorts, outerwear, jackets and sport coats will be sold on macys.com and in 400 Macy’s stores next spring, with plans to roll out the line to most of Macy’s 850 doors over time.
“This is one of the biggest business moves of my life,” Combs said. And the Macy’s deal is designed to fortify his fashion-insider status. It’s one facet of Combs’ methodical efforts to burnish an image as a multi-industry renaissance man.
That drive has culminated this year with launch of a new album in June that has him “doing things with my voice that I’ve never done before,” as well as a starring role in the film, “Get Him to the Greek,” said Combs, who apologized for his hoarseness during the press conference.
That’s a far cry image-wise from the “Puff Daddy” of the late 1990s, who was embroiled in a high-profile shooting incident at a New York City club—but was later cleared of all charges. It also brings the 40-year old Combs, who recalled working at Macy’s when he was 16, selling shirts and ties, full circle. “The evolution of the Sean John brand mirrors the evolution of Diddy,” said Kevin Morrissey, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for Macy’s. “This initially was a line that was targeted at the younger urban customer who has grown with the brand and who now is looking for more modern, professional fashion,” he said.
The line’s appeal spans “all demographic groups,” said Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chief merchandising officer. “Everybody wants to look like Sean.” But in recent years, the Sean John brand had lost some of its luster. After a period of “phenomenal growth,” the collection had hit a wall, and wasn’t growing, Robertson said. The company set out to “reinvent” the brand in 2008, going beyond its urban roots toward a more contemporary collection “that you can wear in most occasions in your life,” she said.
by R. Asmerom
Design, outsourcing and marketing are key for any entrepreneur looking to get into the seemingly limitless fashion market. Mike “Black” Yussuf, the man behind the men’s fashion label Blac Label Premium figured that out long before he delved into the designer scene. Although he’s always had a strong interest in fashion, working as a financial analyst for Saks Fifth Avenue and Liz Clairborne gave him financial insight into product development and performance.
“All the different divisions had to provide detailed reports as to why their numbers were what they were and I would have to proofread them,” he said. “Those reports would show if tops were doing better, how DKNY Jeans were doing, why our denim sales were slowing down, etc, etc.”
Black left the corporate finance world in 2002 when he got the opportunity to work with Total Sport Inc., a Philadelphia-based retail chain founded by his friend Mike Harris. During his time as general manager, the company grew from 4 locations to 15 stores and 100 employees. The stint proved to be further training for his endeavor in the retail business.
“Total Sport Inc. had stores from New Jersey all the way down to Atlanta, and I got to see the different markets and how different things were operating in those markets,” he said. “I’ve worked in a number of the stores myself and actually got to interact with customers.”
His work with Total Sport Inc. led to consulting gigs with several companies including Headgear Inc, which was then manufacturing Negro league baseball jerseys and jackets and black college apparel, and which now owns retail chain Up Against The Wall.
In 2005, the idea of starting a fashion label was bubbling in his mind and Black knew he had to shift gears and cement his relationship with Headgear. His life-long interest in fashion design came to fruition when he presented the concept of Blac Label Premium and launched the brand under Headgear in 2006.
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(Inc.com) — It’s been a hell of a year for the airbrush-weilding cultural kingpin since Inc. interviewed him for a cover story last March. At that point, Marc Ecko Enterprises was the country’s biggest urban wear company, with global retail sales of $1.5 billion, according to a report. Just months later, several of Ecko’s brands were struggling against the undertoe of a sharp retail recession, and reports circulated that Ecko faced debts of $170 million.